Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, is a warm and welcoming place to visit in Australia. Brisbane is surrounded by lush national parks, rainforests, stunning beaches, and tropical islands. So there are plenty of opportunities for exploring nature and seeing some incredible sights just outside the city.
10 Best Things To Do In Brisbane Australia
Like the other large cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, Brisbane is a popular tourist destination in Australia with lots of culture, entertainment, history, art, and nightlife.
In downtown Brisbane, there are museums, restaurants, gardens, markets, and more all scattered throughout the town. The mighty Brisbane River cuts through the city, and the iconic Story Bridge towers over the river. There’s even a real-life Airbnb Bluey home in Brisbane!
Brisbane is scenic and busy. The weather is usually sunny and warm, though it can get a bit humid in the hot summer months. But no matter what time of year you visit Australia, Brisbane is always pleasant. There is truly so much to do here and so many cool sights to see. So let’s get into the list of the ten best things to do in Brisbane, Australia!
1. Wander Along the South Bank
The first thing most travelers do when they arrive in Brisbane is head for the South Bank. This lively suburb on the southern banks of the Brisbane River is one of the city’s top tourist destinations.
Lined with landscaped gardens, palm trees, flowers, shops, cafes, and monuments, the pedestrian-only walking space offers beautiful views of the river and the city skyline.
There are numerous playgrounds, picnic areas, and barbeque spaces. There is even a man-made beach known as Streets Beach, where you can go for a dip and sunbathe on a hot day.
A standout landmark of the South Bank is the Wheel of Brisbane. This giant Ferris wheel is an iconic sight, and you can ride the Wheel of Brisbane to get spectacular views of the city.
2. Visit the Amazing Museums in the Cultural Centre
The Cultural Centre is a section of the South Bank known for its museums and entertainment venues. For a day of learning, check out some of the amazing museums and galleries here.
The art galleries in Brisbane are world-class. Definitely check out the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Both museums showcase various visual art from throughout the ages, focusing specifically on Australian, Asian, and Pacific art.
The Queensland Museum and Sciencentre is another fascinating place to visit. The Queensland Museum focuses on science, culture, and nature and how these facets have evolved alongside humans. If you’re a fan of natural history and science, this museum has it all. The Sciencentre is known for its ancient fossil collection.
Those interested in literature can also check out the State Library of Queensland, which houses many first-edition works from famous literary icons. Or head to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre to catch a local musical, comedy show, opera, or anything else that’s playing.
Touring the Cultural Centre and getting lost in the history and art is one of the best things to do in Brisbane Australia, on a rainy day.
3. Shop and Sample Different Cuisines at a Street Market
Brisbane has a thriving street market scene. If you are visiting Brisbane on the weekend, there are multiple markets where you can shop, mingle with local vendors, and eat delicious food.
Eat Street Northshore is one of the best places to eat in Brisbane. This giant market hall is filled with any type of cuisine you could imagine. Taste homemade desserts, drink craft beer, sample small plates or eat full meals. Eat Street runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon and night.
The Collective Markets on the South Bank are incredible for shopping and browsing through local artisan goods. These outdoor market stalls pop up and sell art and photography, clothes and home goods, and food every weekend.
Other outdoor market options include the Nundah Farmers Market and the Riverside Markets on Sunday mornings. A weekday market option is the Brisbane City Markets. Here you can taste lots of delicious food on Wednesdays and Thursdays at Reddacliff Place.
4. Climb the Story Bridge
The Story Bridge is one of the most famous Brisbane landmarks. Spanning the width of the Brisbane River, this massive steel bridge connects two of the city’s busiest neighborhoods, Kangaroo Point and Fortitude Valley.
The Story Bridge is most famous for its Bridge Climb. With a reputable local tour company, you can suit up with harnesses and climb to the top of the bridge.
This is not one of the best things to do in Brisbane Australia, for those who are afraid of heights, as you get up to 80 meters above sea level. But for those who love a challenge, climbing the Story Bridge is one of the coolest things to do in Brisbane Australia.
The Bridge Climb is quite expensive, however. If you’re traveling on a budget or you’re just not keen to get that high up, walking across the bridge is still a fun way to enjoy Brisbane. At night, the Story Bridge lights up in colorful LED lights, making it a spectacular sight amidst the city’s twinkling lights.
5. Enjoy the Brisbane River
The Brisbane River is a huge part of the city that winds throughout Brisbane’s different neighborhoods. There are many ways to enjoy this mighty river.
First is the Brisbane Riverwalk. This walking and cycling path above the water provides you with the best views of the river and the city. Rent a bike and cycle along the bike path, or just take a leisurely stroll on the pedestrian path. The route stretches from New Farm all the way to the CBD.
Another way to enjoy the Brisbane River is to book a river cruise. Riverboat cruises are a fun and relaxing way to see the city. Some river cruises also include dinner or drinks or even live music.
Lastly, consider renting a kayak or booking a guided kayaking tour so you can get out on the water. If it’s a nice sunny day, kayaking down the Brisbane River is an awesome way to enjoy the city.
6. Visit the Botanical Gardens
Brisbane has two botanical gardens, so you’re in luck if you the beauty of tranquility of gardens. The most impressive is the Botanical Gardens at Mount Coot-tha. These gardens at the base of the mountain just outside the Brisbane CBD are stunning.
These botanical gardens span 138 acres and have numerous captivating gardens and plant displays specializing in tropical plants. A highlight is the giant dome covered in windows and a skylight, which acts as a massive greenhouse for tons of tropical plants.
The Brisbane City Botanic Gardens are smaller but still gorgeous. They are located at Gardens Point in downtown Brisbane, so they are easily accessible while sightseeing in the city. Complete with a mangrove boardwalk, a lily pond, and plenty of space for having picnics, this is a lovely green space to check out.
7. Enjoy the Nightlife
If you’re looking for a fun night out in the city, Brisbane has so many options. Whether you want to party and dance all night or enjoy a more mellow night with some live music and a drink or two, there are many amazing venues throughout the city.
Fortitude Valley, or just “The Valley” to the locals”, is the heart of Brisbane’s nightlife scene. There is something here for everyone, with tons of pumping nightclubs, trendy bars, and casual restaurants. Some of Brisbane’s best clubs include Prohibition, the MET, and Birdees.
But there are other cool venues scattered all around the city. For a high-end experience, head to Elixir Rooftop Bar or Limes Rooftop for a rooftop cocktail with a view. Or wander down the Howard Street Wharves or Eagle Street Pier for riverside bars and restaurants with outdoor seating.
If you’re looking for some live music, The Zoo, The Princess Theatre, and Fortitude Music Hall often have various acts playing. Brisbane Jazz Club in Kangaroo Point is also an incredible spot to hear some live jazz, blues, and soul music.
8. Enjoy the View From Mount Coot-tha
It’s rare to find a big city that actually has a mountain within its borders. But Mount Coot-tha is an actual mountain in Brisbane that is beloved by locals and tourists alike.
The most popular thing to do on the mountain is drive up the winding road to Mount Coot-tha lookout. From here, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the mountain’s greenery with the city of Brisbane in the background. There is a nice little cafe and landscaped gardens at the lookout as well.
Another highlight of Mount Coot-tha is the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium. Fun for all ages, the Planetarium has numerous exhibitions, interactive displays, workshops, and shows that educate the public about space and science. The Cosmic Skydome, Observatory, and visual tours of the night sky are some of the top attractions at the Planetarium.
After visiting the Mount Coot-tha Lookout and the Planetarium, you can also hit the bike trails and parks on the mountain.
9. Visit City Hall and Learn About Brisbane’s History
Brisbane City Hall is one of the city’s most impressive buildings. Built in the early 1900s, the magnificent building has an 87-metre-tall clock tower and is an important cultural landmark located right in front of King George Square.
City Hall is open to the public every day of the week and often has events and exhibitions on. You can also embark on a guided tour of the building to learn about all its interesting history and architecture. The tours are free and run every day at 10:30 am, 11:30 am, and 1:30 pm.
The biggest attraction in City Hall is the Museum of Brisbane, located on the third floor of the building. The Museum of Brisbane is free to enter and focuses on the city’s people, culture, and history. It showcases the stories and art of Brisbane’s people throughout time through workshops and exhibitions.
The Museum of Brisbane is small, but it’s interesting, interactive, and family-friendly. It’s a great place to learn about the past, present, and future of the city you are visiting!
10. Take A Day Trip
With so much incredible nature surrounding the city, one of the best things to do in Brisbane Australia, is take a day trip! You can rent a car or book a guided tour for any of these.
Those looking to explore the forests and do some hiking can head to Lamington National Park or Springbrook National Park. These parks are full of hiking trails, waterfalls, and incredible mountain views.
Or head to Noosa or the Gold Coast, more of the best cities in Australia. Enjoy the beaches around the Gold Coast, like Surfers Paradise or Burleigh Heads. If you’re making a road trip of East Coast Australia, you can hit many of these places before or after visiting Brisbane.
For a fun day of boating and snorkeling, take a day trip to one of the surrounding islands. Moreton Island is the most popular day trip, with North Stradbroke Island and Bribie Island not far behind. Spend the day soaking in the paradise that is these tropical islands.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.